Frustration for Calgary family after online flight change confusion

A Calgary family wants to give other fliers a heads up after it was charged twice for a flight.

Lisa Willis’ family had been planning a trip to the U.K. for over two years, but the pandemic kept getting in the way. Willis was finally able to book the trip this past December.

It started out well, until three out of the four of them tested positive for COVID.

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Willis said since her flight booking allowed free change or cancellation. She contacted Expedia for TD right away, but she said the representative had to hang up due to an emergency at the call centre.

After repeated attempts to get a hold of someone, she went online to make the changes herself.

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“We clicked ‘change flight’ and we went through the process,’” she said. “And everything went through.”

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Willis didn’t think anything more of it until she discovered there was no record of her changing the flight.

“Apparently it had looked like I had booked a whole new flight separately.”

After arriving back in Canada, Willis said she once again spoke to a representative.

“She goes, ‘Oh yes. You missed your flight on January 2, and you have a credit,’” Willis said.

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Global News reached out to Expedia with Willis’s concerns. We were told it is investigating what happened, but in a statement the company also said Willis didn’t call back after the initial call was cut short.

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It went on to say: “According to airline policy, the traveller had until January 2 to change her return flight. However, there are no records of her calling or attempting to change online, and alternatively she purchased a new ticket.”

Expedia added it attempted to connect with Willis “numerous times” but unfortunately did not get in touch, something she denies.

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Global News also contacted TD with Willis’ concerns, which was quick to act, refunding her $4,000.

“We were sorry to learn of Ms. Willis’ difficulties in receiving her refund and for any challenges she experienced resolving her issues,” a spokesperson told Global News. “We take our customer’s concerns very seriously and have connected with her directly to provide a refund.

Willis said she grateful for the refund and stated she did everything right.

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“I just want it over. I’m tired of thinking about it,” she said. “It makes you angry. You spend so much to take your family on vacation.”

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Airline free change and cancellation policies

Travel experts we reached out to wouldn’t comment on Willis’ specific case, but did have some advice for other fliers regarding change and cancellation policies.

Katie Kewley, Alberta leisure manager with Vision Travel in Calgary, said the one-time change/cancellation fee introduced by airlines since the COVID-19 pandemic do work, but in a lot of cases they’re not going to be free.

“Yes your change fee is free, so there is no change fee,” she pointed out.

“But you still have to pay the additional cost to get on that plane on a new date and you also have to pay a ticketing fee for issuing a brand new ticket.”

Kewley said it is still a great deal because airlines used to charge up to $350 to change flight details.

She also suggested travellers know the rules of their ticket before purchasing and consider travel insurance.

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